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Bernie’s, an American-style restaurant and bar, is located at 3432 Sansom St.

Credit: Alec Druggan

Penn is suing Bernie’s University City Restaurant and Bar for $1.6 million, for alleged unpaid rental fees, according to court documents.

Bernie’s, an American-style restaurant and bar located at 3432 Sansom St., has been a tenant of the University since December 2017 and is still in operation. After a court judgment granted Penn legal means to repossess the property in June, Bernie’s UC, LLC appealed the ruling.

A landlord-tenant complaint form filed in April stated that Bernie's "refuses to surrender" property to Penn. The case is listed for a new trial in September, according to Philadelphia municipal court records.

Penn Vice President of Communications Stephen MacCarthy and Trustee of the University of Pennsylvania Adam Shapiro declined to comment on the lawsuit. Sean Holland, the general manager of Bernie’s, also declined to comment. The restaurant's attorney did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Penn’s trustees filed a notice in January 2019 for the restaurant to vacate the location by the following February because of non-payment of rent. At that time, the University claimed Bernie’s owed a total of $98,161 amassed over 2018 through various missed rent installments. Notices were also filed in November 2018 for $82,749 and August 2018 for $64,451.

The rent has been set at a fixed minimum annual amount of $150,000 for the past two years, and was scheduled to increase by nearly $4,000 in 2020, according to the lease document on the public file.

On June 5, a judgment of possession was entered against Bernie’s giving Penn the right to use legal means to regain possession of the property. A money judgment was then entered in the total amount of $180,060.

In February 2019, Penn won a similar appeal case against its tenant Fresh Grocer. The supermarket appealed a May 2018 ruling that affirmed their lease had expired a year prior, and after going before court, the university prevailed without a full trial. Penn has not yet made motions to repossess the property.